How To Become a Secret Service Agent

By Jordan Fabel •  Updated: September 20, 2021  •  8 min read  •  Criminal Justice
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Are you interested in an exciting career as a secret service agent? Do you want to enjoy this prestigious career in the law enforcement industry? There are many great benefits of becoming a secret service agent. However, it takes the right type of person to enter this career.

When you want to become a secret service agent, it’s best to understand the job duties. You should know what this career includes. Let’s look at the job duties of this career and the steps for how to become a secret service agent.

How To Become a Secret Service Agent

Job Duties of a Secret Service Agent

When you decide to become a secret service agent, you will be a part of the federal law enforcement agency. The duties you will take on are rather unique. From investigating to preventing financial crimes to averting computer-based threats, you will have plenty to do as a secret service agent.

Some of your job duties may include:

The U.S. Secret Service has two different divisions. The division you become a part of will determine your job duties. The investigative division will take care of investigating crimes including identity theft, fraud, counterfeit, and computer hacking. If you join the uniformed division, also called the protective division, you will provide protective services.

While most people think of the Secret Service as those people assigned to protect the President and other political figures, it’s actually more common for Secret Service Agents to work in the investigative division. Your job may vary quite a bit and you may need to travel frequently.

How to Become a Secret Service Agent in 5 Steps

Step #1 – Meet the Minimum Requirements

Not everybody can be a Secret Service Agent. There are some that won’t qualify due to specific requirements. If you want to become a Secret Service Agent, you will need to meet the following basic requirements:

While these requirements may not seem like much, they are just the start. The U.S. Secret Service is incredibly competitive and you will need to be the absolute best possible candidate to get selected.

Step #2 – Finish High School

Those looking to go into a career as a Secret Service Agent will need to hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. This means you have to complete high school. It’s best to have a high GPA and complete many honors or AP courses. High scores on the SAT or ACT can also be very helpful.

You want to start in high school on this career path. Getting the highest grades in the most challenging courses can help you move through the steps to becoming a Secret Service Agent.

Step #3 – Complete a Bachelor’s Degree

You will need to have a bachelor’s degree to become a Secret Service Agent. It’s best to get a degree in criminal justice, law enforcement, or another related field. As you complete your bachelor’s degree, you want to maintain a high GPA.

Without a bachelor’s degree, you will need at least three years of law enforcement experience. However, it’s far easier to go down this career path with a degree. If you demonstrate superior academic achievement, you will have a better chance to move down the path towards becoming a Secret Service Agent.

Step #4 – Get a Graduate Degree

You don’t need a graduate degree to become a Secret Service Agent. However, you need to be the very best candidate, so getting an advanced degree can certainly help. Getting a graduate degree can also help you make up for not doing so well when getting your bachelor’s degree.

A master’s degree can help you move through the steps to becoming a Secret Service Agent faster and easier.

Step #5 – Apply for an Open Position

After getting your bachelor’s degree or getting the necessary experience, you will need to apply for a U.S. Secret Service position. This application will include many tests and background checks. You will go through all of the following:

You will also have to pass a written exam and the Applicant Physical Abilities Test. If you cannot be approved for Top Secret clearance, you won’t be able to enter this career.

The Physical Abilities Test will include push-ups, sit-ups, chin-ups, and you will have to complete a 1.5-mile run. The score you receive will be based on how many of these exercises you can do and how fast you complete the run. If you want to become a Secret Service Agent, it’s best to keep yourself in the best possible physical condition.

Step #5 – Complete your Training

After you’ve completed the hiring process, you will still need to go through training. This training will be held at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center found in Glynco, Georgia.

You will need to complete the 10-week Criminal Investigator Training Program. This program will include topics, such as investigative techniques, police procedures, arrest laws, and firearm training.

After completing this training, you will also need to complete a 17-week Special Agent training course. This course will be held at the James J. Rowley Training Center found in Washington D.C. You will gain more in-depth training on topics, such as providing physical protection and combating fraud.

Necessary Skills for Secret Service Agents

If you want to become a secret service agent, you’ll need the right skill. Some of the skills to work on include:

These skills will be very important to the job. You will also need a strong desire to learn, as you will need to continually learn to advance through your training.

Frequently Asked Questions About Becoming a Secret Service Agent

How much can I make as a Secret Service Agent?

If you become a special agent with the Secret Service, you will have a starting salary of about $49K with promotion potential all the way up to about $144K per year. Those that work in the uniform division as uniformed officers will have a starting salary of nearly $64K and it can go up to as much as $110K per year.

As a Secret Service Agent, you will be paid based on a pay scale with different pay grades. Most Secret Service Agents are hired in at GL-7 or GL-9. These are the bottom salary range for the position, while the highest possible pay grade for a Secret Service Agent is GL-13.

Your location, job duties, and position will help to determine your actual salary.

How long will it take me to go through the hiring process to become a Secret Service Agent?

If you want to become a Secret Service Agent, you will go through testing and background checks. You will need to pass everything and qualify for Top Secret clearance. These factors take time. The hiring process will likely take anywhere from six to nine months to complete.

What type of work environment will I have to endure?

As a Secret Service Agent, you will likely work at many different locations across the world. You may need to travel without much notice and spend quite a bit of time away from your family. Some of your work will likely happen in undesirable locations.

This career also requires you to be available 24/7, in case you were needed. These working conditions can be very challenging.

Do I need experience to become a Secret Service Agent?

You don’t necessarily need experience to become a Secret Service Agent. However, prior law enforcement or military experience is very helpful. Since you need to be the best possible candidate, this type of experience can help you rise to the top.

It can also be helpful to learn a foreign language, or more than one. This can lead to hiring bonuses and special assignments.

If you want to enter a very challenging and exciting career as a Secret Service Agent, you need to follow the steps above. Doing well in school, doing well in training, and becoming a Secret Service Agent can be very rewarding. However, it can also take quite a bit of work.

You need to be the very best candidate when you apply for this type of position. Meeting the basic requirements isn’t enough. You must also rise to the top of the candidate pool.

Jordan Fabel

Jordan Fabel

Covering different 'paths' that people's lives can take. Creative, foster parent, ticket dismissal, you get the idea. Exploring the requirements, certifications, exams, and obviously, approved courses along each path. I, personally, am the high school dropout son of two teacher parents. So how did I get here? That story is coming soon!